On Sunday the Angels broke some news to Gary Matthews Jr. that most outside observers could see coming. Matthews Jr. was told he's going to be the team's fifth outfielder/DH on the depth chart behind Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, Bobby Abreu, and Juan Rivera. Matthews looked better this spring coming off of knee surgery and was hitting .258 with two homers and nine runs driven in, and more important, he looked to be at full speed while running the bases.
So he was hoping that his recovery and decent performance would be enough to get him some playing time this season, but it won't be. After he was told the news, Matthews wasn't exactly happy about it and asked the team if he could leave for 24 hours to cool off.
Instead of traveling with the team to play the Texas Rangers in Surprise, Ariz., Matthews asked for and received permission to take the day off, a 24-hour cooling-off period apparently necessary.
"Gary has made it clear to us that he wants to play every day, but right now, that's not where we're at," Mike Scioscia said. "That's not to say it won't happen at some point of the season. . . . He's playing well and showing he's healthy, but we have Rivera, who we're going to give a look to."
In a perfect world the Angels would just trade Matthews somewhere he could get some playing time and everybody would be happy. In the real world, it's going to be very hard to trade a guy with three years and $33 million remaining on his contract, especially when he's not getting enough playing time to convince anybody he's worth it.
If I was Matthews and it was obvious to me that I wasn't going to get a lot of playing time, I might start taking some infield practice at first base. Kendry Morales is slated to be the Angels first baseman this season, and though he's having a very nice spring, he's still only a career .249 hitter. If he struggles out of the gate, Matthews may be able to find some playing time there.
If he really wants to play, he may as well give it a shot, and Scioscia loves players who can play multiple positions. Or he can purchase a voodoo doll and write Torii Hunter's name on it and start hitting it with a hammer. Both are solid options.